The Indian health ministry has intensified its efforts to curb the spread of the mysterious Coronavirus among Indian citizens. Indian nationals staying in China, which is the epicenter for the virus, are also receiving assistance from the Indian government.
The 2019-nCoV (2019 novel Coronavirus) has so far claimed 25 lives in China and has infected over 800 people in the region. Cases of the virus have also been diagnosed in the neighbouring countries of Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, Korea and even as far as the USA.
The virus originated from the Hunan Seafood market in Wuhan city in Hubei district. The city which has around 11 million residents has been put under lockdown. The disease outbreak comes during the Lunar New Year Festival when China usually witnesses many residents flying in and out of the country. Wuhan, known as the university town, has around 500 Indian medical students. Twenty five of these students who are currently in Wuhan have not yet been infected but are trapped due to the city's shutdown. Another 14 students interning at hospital 300 kms from Wuhan intend to fly to Kolkata soon.
What steps has the Indian Government taken?
The Indian embassy has started a hotline for Indian residents staying in China to connect with their families and vice versa. The Indian embassy received many requests for direct communication to Hubei district by concerned family members owing to the rising fear surrounding the rapidly spreading Coronavirus. The numbers are +8618612083629 and +8618612083617. The embassy is also in contact with Chinese officials to ensure that the Indians in China have enough food and other necessary supplies.
Air and travelling advisory
Till Tuesday, January 21, airports in India had screened a total of 43 flights and 9156 travellers. Along with this, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had also issued a travel advisory on January 17 for travellers travelling to and fro China. The ministry has placed signages at various airports suggesting the signs and symptoms of the virus which will raise awareness among the travellers. The health ministry is collaborating with the Ministry of Civil Aviation for ensuring that the screening process is conducted smoothly. Information about symptoms of the illness and self-reporting is also being disseminated through in-flight announcements.
The Health ministry has also requested the States to prepare themselves for an outbreak and conduct information dissemination sessions regarding the virus. This will ensure that the health facilities in every state are equipped to deal with any untoward symptoms or cases lest they arise.
The government has further constituted a Joint Monitoring Group to assess the risk and review the preparedness and response mechanisms to manage any case that might get imported to India. WHO officials along with representatives from other ministries are coordinating and working together to curb the spread of this disease in India.
The National Institute of Virology has expressed its preparedness to deal with any cases that emerge from the country. Along with this, the Rapid Response health teams that were trained during the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS) have been equipped and trained to identify, diagnose, and control the spread of high risk pathogens.
Also Read: Coronavirus In China: All You Need To Know
How many Indians have been affected by the virus?
Two Indian citizens travelling from China showed pneumonia like symptoms and were admitted to isolation wards in Kasturba hospital in Mumbai on January 24. These two citizens have been kept in quarantine as they are still not confirmed to be infected by the virus. They are under observation at the hospital currently.
A 45- year old Indian female was the first person of foreign origin to be detected with the virus in Shenzhen district. She is currently in isolation and observation at a Shenzhen hospital.
A group of 30 nurses from Kerala working in Saudi Arabia were suspected to be infected by the 2019-nCoV. Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to the Ministry of External Affairs to seek intervention for these nurses.
The Indian Consulate in Jeddah responded to V Murleedharan's (Minister of State for External Affairs) query stating that the nurses were diagnosed with the MERS-CoV and not the 2019-nCoV.
Dr Tarik Al Azraqi, Chairman, Scientific Regional Infection Control Committee, Aseer Region, has confirmed that d Indian Nurse being treated at Aseer National Hospital is suffering from MERS-CoV & not 2019-NCoV (Wuhan). We request everyone to refrain from sharing incorrect info.— India in Jeddah (@CGIJeddah) January 23, 2020
How deadly is the virus?
The source of this new virus has still not been identified. This crown shaped virus can be transmitted from humans to humans.
The World Health Organization has still not announced it as a global public health emergency because they believe it is currently only limited to China with a few scattered cases in other countries. Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, director general of the WHO explained WHO's hesitation in his tweet.
I am not declaring the new #coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern today. The Emergency Committee was divided over whether the outbreak represents a PHEIC. This is an emergency in China, but it has not yet become a global health emergency. https://t.co/16knaV4lMZ— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) January 23, 2020
Various other scientists, however, believe that the number of infected cases are currently being underreported.
The WHO further states that the virus at its current stage is less dangerous than the 2002-04 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Although, it is also being stated that this could transform into a more lethal virus if it is not controlled.
Updated On: 2020-01-24T17:10:13+05:30